Hey guys! Plot bunny popped up, have fun! (No I do not own anything!)
Neal never intended to upset Peter that day and cause the full blown out scene over something nothing more than a misunderstanding. He hadn't expected Peter apologize to him after a heavy spill of words which were hurtful and caused Neal to escape into a porcelain land of privacy for some alone time. Neal would have never thought to see the pressure of Peter's hand on his back nor the invitation of dinner indicating he was truly very sorry. Not in a million years.
And with that said, Neal Caffrey stood in a lengthy black coat which covered the suit he'd worn all day and his hat on the sidewalk outside of June's. He held a bottle of handpicked wine he'd bring to dinner so he didn't feel like a complete moocher. It had taken him a good five minutes to choose which one to bring, but hey, it was a good choice (or so he thought).The sun's light had set minutes ago and the city around him was beginning to light up. He thought of all the busy parents scattering home to their children and dinner table after the seemingly endless bustle of the day. He smiled at the thought just as the cab pulled up and he got in.
However, what he hadn't known was that the cab driver was a young man who received the well needed job from his uncle. He had yet to get a GPS system implemented into the car, as it was his very first week. Needless to say, the young man missed the right turn and had instead turned down the wrong street. Neal shook his head when the man said he would drive him back. It wasn't so far anyway. He got out of the cab and paid the man half of the fare at the driver's request and began walking toward the Burke residence. It was a crisp night out in the city and the smell of the oncoming winter rode the light breezes of air through restored tenement apartments and quiet parks which were all aglow with the hearts of lovers as the nightingales woke to perch among tree branches. It seemed as though the city wasn't asleep, but content. However, there are always exceptions to comfort, as anyone should know, and sometimes the silly comfort was simply a fraud, a ploy. In Neal's case, he happened to get out at the wrong place at the wrong time. At least that is what the unstable homeless man thought as he heard Neal's voice chatting with the cab driver and the closing of the checkered door. He listened from his hideaway in the ally not far from the Burke residence for the expensive clatter of leather shoes against the pavement and, God bless him, shakily reached for the cross on a chain around his neck and held it as tightly as his starved, boney hands would allow.
He prayed the lord would forgive him for what he was about to do and repeated it until the sound got closer and closer. With tear filled eyes, the man stuffed the cross back into his shirt and got up, making little sound. When the time was right the man stepped out and jumped onto the younger man, who was half of his size, sending his hat flying toward the other end of the sidewalk. Yes, it is true that if Neal Caffrey had only chosen the wine he'd brought for dinner sooner, or maybe changed his clothes into something a bit more 'dinner worthy', or even went to the bathroom before he left, he would have hailed a different cab. Perhaps the cab driver wouldn't have gotten lost, and perhaps Neal wouldn't have been mugged by a desperate homeless man who listened for the sound of expensive leather shoes in the ally just a bit before the Burke residence. But hey, it could have been worse. It can always be worse.
Now, Neal Caffrey found himself lying on the pavement in the cool breeze which had comforted him moments before as he watched his attacker run out of his sight. His coat, his suit jacket, his tie, his bottle of wine, his wallet, and his shoe laces were all no longer on his person. Neal lifted himself up onto his knees with a cough, noting the pain radiating from his chest from where the man had kicked him. He placed his head down until it was almost on his knees and cradled his torso. The sour, acidic taste of bile congealed around his teeth and back of his mouth. The breeze swirled and licked his skin, pricking the once smooth outside layer into a bumpy exterior. His head took a moment to ride what resembled the waves of the Pacific Ocean and when he picked his head up again, his vision copied that motion.
He looked down to see the source of the acidic taste, which indicated he must have thrown up as the man kicked him in the stomach. Neal looked around him and knew that no one would probably be coming down this street and even if they did, he wasn't going to the hospital. Not when the Burke residence was about a block away. Neal's grunts and soft whines of pain escaped as he crawled toward the railing to hoist himself up onto his feet. He kept one hand on his torso and coughed most of the way. He'd feel better if he stood up. Neal did just that, but before he pushed himself away, the bile rose again from within him and sent a sputtering mess onto the stairs before him.
He grasped the railing for support and gathered himself, staring toward the bottom of the railing before seeing a dot of blood fall from nowhere and land on his wrist. Confused, somewhat dazed, and pained, Neal reached his hand up to his head and pulled it away when he felt a prick of pain toward the top right of his head. Blood streaked as if pained with his own hair onto the canvas that was his hand. He wiped it on his now un-tucked shirt and stepped away from the pavement, one hand supporting his abdomen. Long story short, Neal Caffrey had practically dragged himself two and a half blocked to where his partner lived, supporting himself with whatever he could find along the way and stopping for breaks by stairs and railings. He finally found himself before the many stairs of the home, 45 minutes late. He groaned, looking at the stairs. Hey, he'd come this far, what's a few more steps. Neal mustered all he could and climbed them, taking one by one until reaching the door. He knocked on it, still catching his breath as the constriction of cold air placed its hands around his longs, making it even harder. Peter was the one to answer, luckily.
"Hey, you're late! El thought it was because you thought I was cooking." He smiled, barely scanning over his partner as Neal leaned seemingly casually against the doorframe. His eyes lit with an expectation of a smart remark from Neal, but Neal's chattering teeth and breath wouldn't allow for speech. That was when Agent Burke's smile faded and concern set in, taking in the full appearance of the one and only Neal Caffrey. "Neal?" He asked. "Hey, what happened to you?" He asked, turning to wrap an arm around the back of his coughing partner to bring him inside. Neal accepted his offer, which was not like the Neal Caffrey he knew.
"'ugged, mmugg'd." Neal managed to get out, almost squeaking when Peter had shifted to allow more of Neal's weight to fall on him. Peter brought him to the couch, his heart pounding against the nervousness of his mind.
"Jesus Neal." He breathed when he set Neal down and sat beside him. Neal crumpled in front of his eyes, folding in as he brought his head down toward his legs against the radiating pain of his abdomen. "Neal. Hey, Neal-"
"A minute…Peter, please." He muttered highly, taking a few deep breaths to steady himself. Peter nodded, complying as he took in his partner and noted the heavy amount of bleeding by the side of his scalp. He wished Elizabeth was here, but she left about 10 minutes ago to go over some last bits of information before the client's wedding the day after.
"Alright, I just don't want you falling asleep on me." Peter said, afraid to offer the least bit of a comforting touch because he was concerned it might hurt Neal. "Maybe it'd be better if you sat up, let some of the air into your lungs." Peter said, placing his hand just lightly on his partner's back. Neal straightened slightly and Peter placed his other hand onto the alleged conman's upper arm to help bring him into a better position. Neal took in a large breath and exhaled, feeling his chest free up slightly, and leaned back onto the couch as he stared toward the ceiling. Peter's vivid eyes scanned the man to his side. He then noticed a long thin trail of blood run down the side of Neal's face. Peter stood, trying to get a better view of Neal's head.
"God Neal, they did a number on you, how are you feeling?" He moved a piece of Neal's hair, which earned a hiss from the younger man.
"Like a…sumo wrestler turned over in his sleep…on me." Neal said before Peter sped to the closet and grabbed a towel. He pressed it to Neal's head.
"Hold that there." Peter instructed. Neal brought his hand up and did as he said. "Where else?" Peter asked as he tried to gather his own thoughts from the shock and concern which flared inside of him. Neal moved his hand and made a sweeping circle around his abdomen before allowing his hand to drop. Peter slowly began to unbutton his shirt, which Neal surprisingly made no indication of protest.
"Let me take a look." Peter said, mostly for a comfort for himself. Neal winced slightly at even the gentlest rustling of the fabric and as Peter continued to unbutton Neal's torn shirt, he could see why. His torso looked as though it had been tied up with rubber bands and tie-dyed with dark blue stain. Even though Peter's hands hovered a good deal away from the injuries, it was easy to feel the fever radiating from them, indicating the first sign of the inflammation process. Peter looked up to Neal, who watched him. "Neal, we have to get you to the hospital." Peter said.
"Snnot that bad." He protested. Peter shook his head, noting the conman was breathing more normally now.
"You could have some serious internal bleeding. Sorry bud, but we've got to." Peter informed, almost regretfully. He began to button up Neal's shirt again as the younger man looked up to the ceiling, huffing. He was honestly much too tired to deal with this. All he wanted to do was to crawl up into his bed and sleep for a month. However, he knew Peter wouldn't let him do that.
"Canni just go to bed." He asked his handler pitifully. Peter shook his head and stood.
"Neal, let's go. It's my car or an ambulance." He didn't want Neal to see how worried he actually was, so he went for more of a firm angle with him and waved him to get up. "Common Neal." Neal Caffrey looked to Peter, not having the energy to even attempt to stand. He looked to Peter, almost pleadingly. 'Please don't make me get up, Peter' He thought, staring at Peter's hand. Peter bit his lip for a moment and went to Neal's side, placing a hand onto his back and took Neal's hand with another. "Common buddy." He hoisted Neal up and for the first time, heard him cry out. If it weren't for Peter's fast moving arms, Neal would have had to try and get up off the floor. Peter caught Neal around the waist and shoulder, struggling to hold him up. Neal's breath hitched as Peter placed his arm around his shoulders and held him close, leading him toward the car.
"Peter…" Neal gasped breathlessly, looking at the stairs. His eyes were full of pained tears on his dirty, streaked face. The rag he held on his bleeding head was clutched in his painfully tight grip.
"It's not that far, Neal, I'm sure if it was the Cullinan diamond sitting there instead of my car, you'd sprint down." Peter remarked, trying to hide the concerned notch in his voice. Neal didn't answer as they walked down the stairs slowly with Peter doing most of the work as he continued to utter reassurances and perks to his partner. Finally, when they'd reached Peter's car, Neal slumped into the passenger seat, taking the form of something more like a blob than a conman. Peter drove to the hospital as fast as possible, not taking mind to signs and speed limits. He tried to get Neal to talk along the way, which he was able to do for pretty much the whole time mostly because Neal was commenting on Peter's reckless driving. When they arrived Peter pulled up and rushed inside to get help. Neal was whisked away after a flash of his badge, who would ever keep a fed waiting? Soon after, Peter sat hunched in the waiting room, pressing his thumbs to the bridge of his nose. He sighed wearily, rubbing his face before looking up at the door. It had been the first real time he hadn't felt his heart jumping from his chest. Though he was indeed concerned, he knew Neal would most likely be alright with time. The agent pondered everything his mind drifted to as he waited, at least until he called Elizabeth, June, and Mozzie.
"Family of Neal Caffrey." A soft voiced woman called from the doorway of the emergency room. Peter's head shot up from his distant stare at his hands held by his wife. He stood, followed by Elizabeth. The doctor told them about how Neal had suffered internal bleeding and a concussion. He also told Peter how Neal would need to stay the night, maybe another day, and take the next week or so off of work with minimal activity for two weeks after. Peter just kept nodding, taking it all into consideration but honestly he just wanted to see Neal.
"Can we see him?" Peter asked. The doctor nodded.
"Right this way." He led them down the busy hallways until landing at Neal's private room. Members of the FBI always got the private rooms. To his surprise, Neal was up. Probably because a nurse had woke him up to check his signs again. Neal gazed weakly up to Peter and Elizabeth as they came in, offering a smile which didn't happen to reach his eyes. Elizabeth led the couple in, perching by Neal's side.
"Hey honey, how are you feeling?" She asked, taking his hand. Neal looked up to her as if a bit confused for a moment.
"Meh." He answered simply. "Felt bettr..." His words slurred with a combination of pain medication and exhaustion. Peter smiled to him reassuringly and walked toe to heel to the other side of Neal's bed opposite of Elizabeth. He kept the smile on his face, which was mostly for Neal. However, he did in fact feel a lot better seeing Neal alive and awake. That took a large amount of weight off his shoulders.
"You were pretty banged up there, bud..." Peter trailed, unsure of what to say.
"Scared. You were scared." Neal answered, smirking slightly. He swallowed against the dryness in his throat. Peter looked behind him and picked up the cup of water from the nightstand.
"Worried about a man who's lied himself out of trouble after breaking into the Taj Mahal?" Peter asked playfully, handing the cup to Neal.
"Little bit?" Neal's smile grew as did Peter's. Neal took the cup from Peter and sipped through the straw.
"Well, perhaps just a little." Peter muttered, pulling over a chair. Elizabeth giggled.
"Really worried actually, there's a Yankee game on and he hasn't looked at the score once." Elizabeth pulled a chair along to her side and sat, crossing her legs. Neal's forged shocked expression turned toward Peter with a fake gasp.
"You sure you don't belong in this bed?" He asked, handing the cup back to the agent to place onto the table. Peter shrugged.
"I've been sick for years. It's called Caffreyitus." He scoffed. Neal chuckled and moved his hand to his torso. However, even the gentlest touch from himself caused a sharpened intake of breath before lowering his hand to the side of his bed. Peter's smile faded and a more concerned expression set in. "Still sore huh? Doctor said it'd take a while." Neal huffed. "But think of the bright side, you don't have to work for a week or two." He added lightheartedly. Neal nodded, raising his eyebrows. Peter shuffled closer. "I want you to come stay with us until you're out of bed at least." Neal looked up to Peter.
"Why?" Neal asked. He'd be fine in his own home, he always was.
"Because I want to torcher you with bad suits, beer, and deviled ham for the next week and a half." Peter answered in a false serious tone. Neal smiled lightly, feeling the weariness settling in like a thick fog.
"Okay, Peter." He muttered as a silent realization of trust and ease mustered around them.
"Okay Neal." Peter said in an agreeing tone. He reached over and patted the man lightly on the arm, smiling softly. Neal was his to protect and, even more than that, his friend.
Thanks for reading!